Neergantis of the Arkavathy Basin - traditional occupations lost forever

The ACCUWa (Adapting to Climate Change in Urbanising Watersheds) project team organized a meeting with traditional watermen (Neerghantis) in the upper Arkavathy sub-basin at Doddaballapura on 23 December 2015. The meeting offered ATREE researchers glimpses into a waterscape and a water governance system that has disappeared forever.

Around 30 traditional watermen who were in charge of managing the irrigation tanks in the basin participated in the meeting. The main objective of the meeting was to gain an understanding about history, challenges, and current status of the tanks and the watermen and cropping pattern in the tank command area now and before. As borewells have spread, surface water inflows into tanks and canal irrigation have gradually disappeared. Many of the region's irrigation tanks have been defunct for over 25 years.

The discussion centred around the history of the tanks and the watermen's relationship to them. How tanks were managed traditionally by the watermen, their social status, rewards and process of water allocation were discussed in detail. The watermen also traced changes in status of the tanks, sources of irrigation and cropping patterns of the farmers over the last few decades. The meeting generated a shared understanding of the historical evolution of irrigation tanks and their governance in the Arkavathy basin.